Meet the Medium: Watercolour

Hello all, Rosie here! As we mentioned in this weeks episode about ‘Watercolour at War’ currently exhibiting at the Laing, I am a practising artist who primarily uses watercolour and ink.  To celebrate the Laing’s watercolour gallery I thought it would be nice to introduce you to my materials and how I got to know them.

There is no right or wrong way to use watercolours (or any other medium for that matter), what’s important is that you find a system that works for you and makes it easy and enjoyable for you to express yourself through creativity.

If you are not a painter but are interested in learning how, starting a new 2019 hobby perhaps, watercolours could be a fabulous choice. As we discussed in the episode, watercolours are quick drying, easy to set up and pack away, portable and above all fun! There are so many different techniques to learn and play with that you will be able to find the style that feels right for you! Watercolour allows for a wide range of artistic expression, which is one of the reasons ‘Watercolour at War’ was such a varied exhibition.

As I am a big believer in learning through play, I would recommend just having a go! Because it is activated by water you can continue to use your pallet once the paint has dried meaning you can pick up your painting at any point and you are less likely to waste any of your paint or ruin any of your brushes if you forget to wash them (which is always a bonus for a forgetful artist like myself).

As a child, I was given watercolour paints as my first paints as they are water soluble meaning they would not stain my clothes or make an irreversible mess. I started out with tins of very affordable ‘beginners’ paints, a couple of which have survived to this day. These were a fantastic starting point and would keep me entertained for hours. As I was young, I would usually need to be supervised when using liquid paints such as poster paint or acrylic, however as watercolour was solid I could play with these as often as I wanted. Playing with pallets such as these gave me a good understanding of mixing colours, an understanding of how to implement the correct amount of water to activate the paints and achieve the look I needed and, arguable most importantly, how to not cross contaminate colours and waste paint having to clean it up. Too many times in my childhood was my white paint pink. These were all important lessons in the fundamentals of painting that can be applied to many other mediums.

As I got older and was trusted not to destroy all my clothes and my house, I was given a Winsor and Newton pallet and a Van Gogh pallet. These originally came with little brushes (which are now lost to the ages) and would serve me well for many years. The colour was richer, much more pigmented. The paint mixed with the water with more ease than my earlier pallets which were dusty in comparison. Unlike my last pallets, each colour was in a self contained tray they could be replaced when empty. This also gave me the luxury of rearranging the colours to my liking and giving the pallet a deep clean in between projects. As I had no money I quickly discovered that you could refill the trays with paint from a tube and maintain a fully functioning pallet for a reduced cost. The Van Gogh pallet was a gift from my grandad and has always been a favourite.

flash forward to 2016. I have graduated and have now been using watercolour as a serious hobby for 3 years. With new found freedom from the constraints of my university fine art practice, I take the time to dabble in watercolour more seriously and decide to use my tubes of paint to create my own pallet. I pick up this repetitively cheap plastic pallet and add all of the colours I feel I am likely to use in an order that makes sense to me.

Although my pallet may look messy there is method to the madness! The mixing trays feature some of the colours I have mixed for ongoing projects that I can activate again simply by adding water. once I have completed my project I can give the trays a wipe down with a cloth to restore order and start all over again! This is unlike most other mediums, which would be unusable once they have dried. For this reason one could perhaps argue that watercolours are less wasteful than other paints, such as acrylic which cannot be used once dry, as they do not demand that you asses exactly how much paint you will need for a painting session. Watercolour allows you to revisit the exact same pallet weeks after you mixed it, which can be quite useful if you have a busy schedule!

Because this is my first pallet, I can admit that I got a couple of details wrong which I can alter next time. For example I put the black and browns in the slots with no mixing tray which in retrospect I now know is not smart (I use this colours WAY more that I thought!) and I could probably do with one less blue. The beauty of this is that when my paints become scarce I can re do it!

Brushes:
Watercolours require soft brushes that can hold the water (and paint) as you use them. This inst a rule so feel free to use the brushes available to you or the ones that you prefer, but a soft brush is usually standard practice. My watercolour game was forever changed when I discovered these water brushes that can be filled with liquid and squeezed to distribute its contents into the bristles of the brush. I always have one of these in my pencil case ready to go as it allows me to start a quick painting wherever I am, even if water is limited! I have found you still need to clean them and use a container of water as you go, but I find this so so useful when using water soluble materials.

I would also like to try filling my water brushes with ink and having a play.

If you are interested in purchasing some watercolours but aren’t sure where to start you could pop into Details, the art supply shop in Newcastle Art Centre, which is a independent and family run store. The staff are super knowledgeable and will be more than happy to help and inform you about the watercolours available on the market. I also pick up a lot of my materials from Amazon, which is always good for a bargain!

If you know of any good art supply shops please let me know! I am always on the hunt for additions to my supplies and I am keen to support local businesses and independent shops!

Remember, you do not have to spend a lot of money on art materials! Work with what you have and what you can afford. You can still develop your skills and your craft with a £10 as you could a £100 pallet – its all about putting the time in. Practice makes perfect.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my medium! If you want to see what I do with these materials you can follow my practice on my Instagram! I sketchbook work, completed pieces and process videos in watercolour, ink and drawing so go check it out if you fancy it
@rosie.the.artist

Thanks for taking some time to meet my medium and happy art-ing my friends!

-Rosie

Episode 28 – Watercolour at War at the Laing Art Gallery

In this week’s episode the girls head back along to the Laing Art Gallery, one of Newcastle’s many gems, and had a look at ‘Watercolour at War’. This is an exhibition showing a variety of war and inter-war period watercolour paintings and sketches, and the variety is just astounding!

Exhibition runs until 1st November 2019

More information: here

Location: Laing Art Gallery

Opening times: Tues-Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 14:00-17:00

Episode 27 – The Age of Love by Heather Phillipson

As part II of our BALTIC double-bill, this week the girls talk about something else they went to go see at BALTIC Late 2018: Heather Phillipson’s surreal and entrancing ‘The Age of Love’. This wonderfully alien and multi-faceted exhibition responds directly to the BALTIC’s Level 4, and is available to visit until the end of March.

Exhibition runs: 19th October 2018 – 24th March 2019

More information: here

Location: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Opening Times: Mon-Sun, 10:00 – 18:00

Episode 25 – Beacon Films

A little while ago the girls went over to the Whitley Bay Playhouse to check out the Beacon Films 2018 Premier, a night full of short films and entertainment. It was a fantastic and very inclusive evening, so we thought it deserved talking about.

“Beacon Films C.I.C. is a multi-award winning training and production organisation for filmmakers who have learning difficulties, autism and additional needs, whose work has received over 100 festival screenings across many countries and has been praised by people from across the world of film.”

Click here to find out some more information about Beacon Films.

Episode 23 – North Tyneside Art Studio

For this episode the girls wanted to talk about the GeNErosity Festival and North Tyneside Art Studio, an organisation that offers a safe, non-judgemental environment where people can explore their creativity at their own pace, to help improve and sustain good mental health as part of a friendly and welcoming community.

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Some more information about the studio: here

Further info on GeNErosity Festival: here

Episode 22 – Hard Craft by Juliet Fleming and Sarah-Joy Ford

On the 100-year anniversary of partial women’s suffrage in the UK, this exhibition of collaborative work draws upon the material histories of dis-obedient craft.

This week the girls popped back along to Vane Gallery to check out the newest exhibition ‘Hard Craft’ by artists Juliet Fleming and Sarah-Joy Ford.

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Exhibition: 15th November 2018 – 15th December 2018

More Information: here

Location: Vane Gallery

Opening Times: Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00 – 17:00

Art Daze: A Place to Recharge during an Art Day (Part 1)

Avoiding art fatigue is an important part of any art enthusiasts’ life! No matter what you call it (‘museum overload’ and ‘museum feet’ to give a few examples) the struggle is real. Art fatigue is a phrase that we have created to describe the feeling of exhaustion unique to a day traipsing round museums and art institutions. Everyone has their limits. After absorbing so much art, supporting documents and forming opinions and ideas surrounding these sources, it is easy to feel drained.

This can be particularly true when visiting open studios: So much to see and do! But also a lot of ground to cover! While reflecting on the Gateshead Open Studios featured in this weeks episode and with the Ouseburn Open Studios fast approaching, we felt it was important to make a public service announcement addressing this.

Time can fly in an art gallery, particularly the larger institutions such as the BALTIC or the Hancock Museum. Many times on their travels the ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ gang have lost track of time in the V&A, The British Museum or the Tate and have been struck down with art fatigue, wishing only for a helpful guide to lead them to a nice, affordable place to go for a brake. We do not wish anyone to feel this way in our very own Tyneside and so we have given this issue some thought…

The best medicine, we have found, is a sit down and a beverage. Like a fine wine to a meal, we have paired up gallery spaces to different bars and cafes which could provide you with a moment of refuge. Heading to a bar or café can provide an opportunity to have a think about the art you have just seen and let your reactions clarify. You can do this solo, perhaps perusing the free literature you picked up in the gallery over a brew and perfecting your Instagram post about your cultural experience, or among friends discussing the bits you enjoyed and the bits you didn’t. We have tried to choose pleasant and affordable establishments that are within walking distance of the art galleries we have included, so that if you need to take an emergency brake you need not fear. We enjoy cafes and bars which have a creative feel, so that they do not detract from your art day. No Wetherspoons will be found on this list!

We want to support the arts and creativity in Tyneside and feel that small, local and independent businesses fall under that. It is important that we give these places our support as they are helping sustain our local economy, are more environmentally sound and are bringing some diversity to Newcastle and Gateshead. These businesses are what makes Tyneside what it is. The bars and cafes we have chosen are by Geordies for Geordies. The businesses we have included in this list are places we actually go to and enjoy spending time! Let us know what you think and if you know of any good local bars and cafes near some art institutions please let us know! You can leave us a comment or reach out to us on:
Twitter and Instagram: @heyartwhatsgood
Gmail: heyartwhatsgood@gmail.com

 

Baltic and Sage

The Baltic and the Sage are two of the most important art institutions in the North East and represent a large part of the Northern arts scene. We expect that you may have been to both but if not we would strongly recommend!

         Block and Bottle   –

After spending time in the large and impressive art institutions along the river you may benefit from scaling down and enjoying the services of a small indie business. Rather than taking out a bank loan to afford a couple of pints at the Sage or Baltic bars (or even the rather pricey shipping container village) head on over to the Block and Bottle! Block and Bottle is a bottle shop and butchers combo which offers fridges packed with interesting cans and bottles that you don’t come across in your average shop. B&B also have a couple of taps so if that’s more your style don’t despair. Although at first it can be a bit strange to sit at the singular table among the meat counter, the place has good vibes, friendly staff and an impressive selection of drinks.

This is a foodies dream as you can grab a can and talk to the folks behind the counter about their produce, which Ellie almost always takes the opportunity to do!

We are also big fans of the art that can be found on beer cans! We have all been guilty of choosing a beer based on the art it features, but what can we say – we are slaves to the aesthetics! We recommend keeping the cans and upcycling them into plant pots or pencil holders. Just use a can opener to take off the top, give it a sand to avoid any sharp edges and give it a clean.
Distance from gallery: 13 minutes, 0.6 miles
14 Wellington St
Gateshead
NE8 2AJ

tempImageForSave (1)

         Station East      –

If you fancy a more traditional bar, Station east could be the place for you. With many nooks and crannies, this pub is perfect to settle down for a moment, rest your aching feet and enjoy a local brew. There are pies and pastries available behind the bar and this pub offers a loyalty card so that you can earn point for your beer (truly the perfect system!). Friendly staff are always happy to give a beer recommendation and feel free to ask for a taster so that you know which pint will pair correctly with your day of culture.
Distance from gallery: 12 minuets, 0.5 miles
Hills St
Gateshead
NE8 2AN

tempImageForSave

          Grumpy Panda

Grumpy Pander may be one of the best kept secrets in Tyneside. Hidden just off the Gateshead high streets it offers an impressive selection of vegan cuisine. None of us here at ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ are vegan, but the food is so good it doesn’t matter! The diner offers hot and cold drinks and a fairly extensive menu of delicious food stuffs both sweet and savoury.
Distance from gallery: 21 minutes’ walk, 0.9 miles
14 Regent Terrace
Gateshead
NE8 1LU

 

System

System Gallery aims to provide a space for local up and coming contemporary artists to exhibit their work. This white gallery space usually has quite a fast turnover so it’s likely that you will see a different show each time to visit. The work is quite varied and so part of the excitement is not quite knowing what you’re going to get, but that is will probably be new and interesting!

         Bar Loco   –

Bar Loco is the obvious choice, seeing as you have to walk through the establishment to get to the gallery. However just like System, Bar Loco provides a space for the creatives of Newcastle to meet and showcase their ideas. Many a time have the girls of ‘Hey Art, What’s Good?’ wandered into a free gig, an open mic night and once a double bass practice. The bar is a space where political and activist groups meet and the space is oozing with art in its aesthetic.

We also believe that Bar Loco serves the best nachos in town, so grab a beer, order a sharing portion of nachos and talk about some art!
Distance from gallery: 0 minutes’ walk, 0.0 miles
22 Leazes Park Rd
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PG

         Tea Sutra   –

Just down the street from System Gallery is Tea Sutra Teahouse, a tea lover’s haven above the joke and costume show Magicbox on Percy Street. This café provides a space to meet with friends and family or simply have some time to yourself! The environment is cosy and the tea menu is extensive. Tea Sutra is a café which encourages you to enjoy a moment a stillness. Patrons can relax as they wait for the tea to brew and become cool enough to drink. If you ask nicely the employees also give out free refills in the form of a flask of boiling water that you can pour into your teapot to make the most of your tea leaves.

There is a small food menu which offers vegetarian and vegan curries, soups and wraps. It is also well worth trying the chi-of-the-day. There is a ritual to drinking tea this was that nurtures meditation. If your art day has you a bit flustered we recommend you pay Tea Sutra a visit.
Distance from gallery: 1 minute walk, 348 ft
1st Floor
2 Leazes Park Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PF

sdr

 

The Great North Museum: The Hancock

 

         The Hancock (Pub)

With the very same name as the museum, it would be hard to avoid talking about the Hancock pub. Best known for its deals on alcohol and its student clientele, this bar is better catered to those on an art adventure with friends. The bar has pool, a decent smoking area and very reasonable prices on both the food and drink menu.
Distance from gallery: 5 minutes’ walk, 0.3 miles
2A Hancock St
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 4PU

         Quilliam Brothers’ Teahouse

Quilliams could be described as a creative space in its own right and so makes a wonderful addition to any art day. This family business (actually set up and run by three brothers) offers a vast selection of tea and coffee as well as a great food menu and a mouth-watering selection of sweet treats.

Kitted out with its own small cinema and frequently exhibiting artwork you can take this opportunity to have a break from one art day and browse through the Crack and Quilliams filers to see if there are any film screenings coming up that take your fancy.
Distance from gallery: 4 minutes’ walk, 0.2 miles
Claremont Buildings
1 Eldon Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RD

IMG_20181122_151013Photograph: Dylan McKee (@djmckee)